Battambang and Siem Reap are two of the nicest spots that Northwestern Cambodia has to offer, and each is worth visiting. Battambang and Siem Reap are only 48 miles (77 km) apart, but the trip can take as long as four hours due to the fact that there’s no direct road–all of the buses route through Sisophon–and up to ten hours by boat. Here we cover how to get from Siem Reap to Battambang (and vice-versa), including boat, taxi and bus.
Heading to Battambang? Check out our expat guide to Battambang with hotels, activities, transport and more.
After a hiatus, there are again mini-bus shuttles traveling between Siem Reap and Battambang. Mekong Express are now running two buses every day in either direction. The 8 a.m. bus from Siem Reap and the 2 p.m. bus from Battambang is larger and seats 25 passengers, the other bus seats 18 passengers. Mekong Express is a long-time tourist favorite because they have a good safety record and are relatively reliable.
Tickets cost $6 for Cambodians and $7 for foreigners and can be booked at the Mekong Express ticket offices or online at BookMeBus where you can reserve a seat in advance. The trip takes about three hours.
Mekong Express schedule:
Siem Reap to Battambang: 8 a.m., 2 p.m.
Battambang to Siem Reap: 8 a.m., 2 p.m.
14 Sivatha Blvd, Khum Svay Dangkum, Siem Reap
T: 063 963 662; 012 315 858
323 Street 3, 3 Mohatep Village, Svay Por Commune, Battambang
T: 088 576 7668; 069 88 59 59
There are several full-size bus companies doing this route, all of them of the crappy local variety. Bus tickets cost around $5, but there can be as much as 100% markup at local travel agents and guesthouses, particularly on the Siem Reap side. It’s quite easy to go directly to the bus company ticket office and purchase your ticket yourself to save a couple of bucks.
Capitol Tours is the best of the bunch. Their fleet of 42-seat buses bedecked with colorful curtains are aging but still in decent condition. You’ll be treated to Khmer karaoke videos for the duration of the journey, an excellent insight into local culture. They tend to leave 15 minutes late and the trip takes between three and three-and-a-half hours.
Tickets cost 22,000 riel ($5.50) for both locals and foreigners and includes free mini-bus pickup. The bus depots in both Siem Reap and Battambang are not particularly central, so you can go to the Capitol offices in either town (we have links to maps below) and they’ll transport you to the station. Expect to add another hour to your trip with the back and forth from the stations, often making the trip more hassle than it’s worth (we prefer the mini-buses).
For full-size buses that arrive in Battambang, there will be another bus waiting that says ‘Pick up Bus’ on the side that will take you into town, or you can take a tuk tuk from the station. You can also get a tuk tuk from the Battambang bus station; the drivers offer a discounted rate of $1 for tourists, but if they know that you’re not planning on doing any day tours, they will push for the “real” rate of $2 or $3. For buses that arrive in Siem Reap, you can easily get a tuk tuk or moto to town for a couple of bucks.
Capitol Tours Schedule:
Siem Reap to Battambang: 7:30 a.m., 8:30 a.m., 9:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m.
Battambang to Siem Reap: 7:45 a.m., 9:45 a.m., 1 p.m., 3 p.m.
Private taxis cost between $40 or $50 to go from Siem Reap to Battambang or vice-versa. As with most taxis in Cambodia, the preferred vehicle is the Toyota Camry which can fit four passengers, but it can be a tight squeeze and the trunk is rarely empty, so if you have more than three people, travel light. You can hire a taxi through any local guesthouse or travel agent for $40, but if you book a taxi online you’ll get an SUV taxi (usually) for around the same price. The trip takes two or two-and-a-half hours.
Boats between Siem Reap to Battambang leave at 7 a.m. each day in either direction. The trip takes between eight and ten hours, depending on the season and how high the water level is, and which direction you are going; the trip from Battambang to Siem Reap is shorter than the other way around. The views are gorgeous, passing by many small fishing villages, allowing visitors to get a sense of life on Cambodia’s riverside. If you’re considering taking the boat, know that the wet season is the best time to take it due to higher water levels, but be sure to bring both sunblock and some sort of rain protection (you can get cheap ponchos for 2,000 riel at any small shop). Also be aware that the boats do not have any sort of safety standards and wouldn’t pass any safety tests back home. The boats seat up to 14 people, but they will pack as many as 20, with luggage, onto the boat. Tickets cost between $20 and $22 per person and it’s possible to book the entire boat for private trips for around $180. These are the phone numbers listed at the dock (your mileage may vary): T: 012 689 068; 012 601 287; 010 689 068; 097 774 1333
Bus tickets purchased through links in this post to read more here.